Libya

UTSA political science professor Dr. Mansour El-Kikhia plans to become the second prime minister in the history of a new democratic Libya. In December, he will return to his home country, where he plans to establish a new political party, the Libyan Democratic League, that will eventually allow him to run for the country’s top office in June.

“It is a matter of putting the picture into focus and the ideas on the ground,” El-Kikhia said.

El-Kikhia, who is chair of the department of political science and geography, escaped political persecution from the Gaddafi regime in 1982 and is a well-known advocate for human rights and outspoken dissident of the Gaddafi regime. He has been part of UTSA’s political science department since 1989.

Regarding his future at UTSA, El-Kikhia said he might take a leave from the university “only if it is necessary.”

“But San Antonio is my home; of course, I’ll come back. And besides, if I leave, I am confident someone capable will take charge of the department,” El-Kikhia said.

El-Kikhia comes from a long-lasting political dynasty that spans more than half a century.

“My father, my great grandfather, my cousins—we’ve constantly served the people of Libya over the ages, and they have rewarded us by placing their faith and trust in us,” El-Kikhia said. “My father was the first prime minister of the province Cyrenaica, and later became head of the senate for the Kingdom of Libya.”

His cousin, Mansour Rashid El-Kikhia, former Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs and ambassador to the regime, resigned to become an outspoken critic of Muammar Gaddafi. In 1993, while he was attending a human rights summit in Egypt, he was abducted by Egyptian security forces and brought to Libya where he was handed to the Gaddafi’s regime. He was killed not long after, according to a CIA four-year investigation.

“I suppose that when you are in a position like Gaddafi’s, you do become a megalomaniac,” El-Kikhia said. “Globalization has been a fascinating experience for societies. The whole world is changing; there is no tolerance for dictatorship anymore.”

“We know Gaddafi’s wealth exceeded $180 billion, in properties in France, Europe, Africa, all over the place. We know that we have close to $120-130 billion in foreign accounts but they are now under lock and key,” El Kikhia said, in reference to the U.N. resolution that froze Libya’s assets. The resolution prevented Gaddafi’s family from taking money from these accounts.

“This is why I didn’t want him dead, I wanted him alive to see where the money was. It has to return to the people of Libya. My major fear is that the country where the wealth is will not be willing to give it back. Gabon, Rwanda, Angola, might say ‘Money for recognition: we will keep this money to recognize you as a country,'” El Kikhia said.

Who will defend the ideas of a young democratic nation?

“Dictatorship does something to you; it saps your strength; it saps your thought, your individual initiative,” El-Kikhia said. “My major concern is that this generation will not regain those ideas, that the next generation will be the one that will be able to do so.”

“By December we will have a new government and we’ll have a clearer picture of where we are going,” El-Kikhia said. “I am taking a part in the building of a constitutional framework, but since there are no official institution to do this, all of this is done very informally.”

Abdurrahim El-Keib ,the interim prime minister of Libya who was appointed on Oct. 31, has announced committees to formalize the process, and his plans to open up to a democratic process in June. Then the country will hold nation-wide elections. El-Keib, also an academic, held a teaching position in the University of Alabama before heading back to the Middle East.

El-Keib was virtually unknown outside Libya, and according to El-Kikhia he “was the best choice, in the sense that he neutralized the conflicts between the council itself. He was in nobody’s pocket.”

With interviews on PBS, CNN and The Daily Show with John Stewart, El-Kikhia is a well known figure because of his opposition to the former regime.

“I do believe I am well know in Libya,” El-Kikhia said. “The establishment of a political party alone is not an individual effort, is the work of many people. The opportunity to participate in government should be given to those who are younger, for those who have lived under the regime. We will participate in government, we will run for office. We are going to open up the system.

“Globalization changed everything, you can be thousands of miles away and living under one system and you see how others countries are managing themselves with different ones. It makes you aware of how you live, of who you are, the options, but moreover of what you can be. This is an impetus for the need to change, this is what is happening in North Africa. The toppling of dictatorships is unstoppable, it is a natural trend resulting from the progression of history.

“These are interesting times for the Middle East—no doubt.”

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